Russian tanks beyond competition no matter what they say

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin who is in charge of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) said that the Russian army will continue to buy armored vehicles, despite previously voiced approval of the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Army General Nikolai Makarov, who stated that the Russian Ministry of Defense in the next five years will not make such purchases.

According to Chief of General Staff of Russia, "We stopped the procurement of armored vehicles. We gave the designers five years to develop new types of military equipment." He also has specific claims to the Russian T-90S tanks. According to him, the tower of the tank fully satisfies the Defense Ministry, but in general the vehicle was not satisfactory because of the inadequate protection of the crew. In fact, the same claims were addressed to the combat vehicle BMD-4 and armored vehicles "Tiger."

In fact, he confirmed the position of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov voiced in the summer of 2011 that could be summarized as a rejection to purchase domestically produced tanks.

In addition, some defense officials have repeatedly stressed that it would be better not to buy T-90 tanks, but instead purchase German "Leopard" that are supposedly cheaper, and have better technical characteristics.

Meanwhile, Dmitry Rogozin has summed up its attack on Nikolai Makarov as follows: "Our military commanders should not be conducting a dispute with the military science and industry through the media. There are many other ways to solve problems ... In NATO, for example, this would be difficult to imagine."

While Makarov and Serdyukov make unequivocal statements about Russian military products, Algeria is buying another batch of Russian T-90S tanks. In 2009 the country purchased 185 of these machines. Judging by the fact that in the fall of 2011 Algeria signed a contract for the supply of another 120 units of T-90S tanks, it is satisfied with their quality.

The country has very difficult relations with the neighboring Morocco. The two countries have a number of unresolved border disputes and are competitors in the Maghreb. This is evident with respect to the problem of Western Sahara, where Algeria supports the factions opposing the Moroccans, seeking the liberation of this country from Rabat.

In this regard, both countries have an arms race. Morocco mainly buys military equipment produced in the NATO countries, particularly in the U.S., and Algeria, in spite of their statements about the desire to diversify the industry, buys from Russia. In other words, the Algerian military did not have claims against the Russian tanks, although the country lives in the situation of a renewed armed conflict with Morocco and would face American-made armored vehicles. It is important that when in 2008 they were not satisfied with the quality of MiG-29, they returned them to Russia. There have been no claims against the T-90S tanks from them yet. Ironically, the Algerian generals in this sense are greater patriots of Russia than the Russian ones.

Pravda.Ru interviewed military experts Alexander Khramchikhin, Anatoly Tsygankov and Konstantin Sivkov to find out what has caused such a strange situation with Russian tanks.

Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis: "Currently a multifaceted political and lobbying struggle of various groups is ongoing in Russia. Sure, Makarov and Serdyukov want to buy the best weapons for the army, and Rogozin defends other interests. We cannot rule out that in his desire that the Defense Ministry continues purchasing domestic weapons that are not always satisfactory in terms of quality, he simply supports influential groups in the Russian military-industrial complex to enlist their support to the political perspective.

As to why Algeria buys the T-90S tanks, then this is largely due to the fact that they are particularly useful when operating in the desert. On the other hand, a complete and unilateral rejection of the Russian military equipment would be an expensive affair, even for the Algerians. Therefore, by force of habit, and because of the old tried and tested relations they have with us, in many ways they continue to buy our arms. "

Konstantin Sivkov, the first vice-president of the Academy of Geopolitical Issues: "The purchase of several hundred of our T-90S by Algeria once again speaks of carelessness of the talks that our armored vehicles are worse than the foreign ones. Even though in the last 20 years, our defense industry receives very little attention from the authorities, it produced products that remain competitive in the global arms market. As for the T-90, its purchase fully meets the interests of the armed forces. However, it is time to consider the adoption of the new tank to replace the one designed in the Soviet times.

"But, let's say, it will take us several years to actually create "Armada" tank .Until then we may do well by modernizing the existing T-90 because it is very well suited for this. There is also an opportunity to resume work on the ruined by Makarov tank T-95 with a powerful gun, so we are quite capable of holding out for another 20-25 years.

"As for the allegations that Western models of armored vehicles are better and cheaper than ours, it is a blatant lie. In terms of some parameters T-90S is inferior to "Abrams", "Leclerc" and "Leopards". When the Chinese were recently choosing a tank gun, they saw our caliber 125 mm and the NATO M68 caliber 120 mm. They eventually chose the Russian one, pointing out that it is much better than Western models. This is further evidence of the superiority of our T-90.

"It wins if we combine all the characteristics. As for the price, then each of these machines, if we are not talking about the samples of the 1970s, but the modern tanks, are three-four times more expensive than our T-90.

"Because of this we must ask the question: what has caused such a situation in which the preference is given to the foreign competitors, and whether the adepts of these ideas are going to eliminate our military-technical sovereignty? Today, our army is still equipped with weapons mainly of domestic production, and therefore, we almost do not depend on the countries with which we have disagreements from time to time, for example, over Georgia and Syria.

"We must remember that by purchasing foreign military equipment, we automatically become dependent on its producers, ranging from training of personnel to delivery of spare parts that are easily damaged, and in whose absence this equipment becomes useless scrap metal.

"I do not think that Gen. Makarov is so narrow-minded that he does not understand it. I would question the competent authorities, such as the FSB and Prosecutor General's Office, why do they not start an investigation against those officials who stubbornly lead us to the procurement of foreign military equipment, which is fraught with the loss of sovereignty? Why those who appointed Serdyukov, someone who has no relevant experience, to lead the Defense Ministry, do not notice what is going on?"

Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the Scientific and Analytical Center for National Security Information Agency "Weapons of Russia": "What is happening is an additional reflection of the fact that after the war with Georgia in 2008 the Russian authorities made the wrong conclusions on the further development of the armed forces. In particular, this has resulted in an obvious desire to reduce the arms. The tanks, as shown by the military realities, are still a primary means of fighting on land. The NATO and China are well aware of this, and are not in a hurry to write off their armor.

"Now we have a paradoxical situation: the heads of the Defense Ministry and General Staff criticize their own tanks! The accusations they voice with respect to T-90 are solved by means of further modernization. Meanwhile, in parallel we need to create more modern weapons.

"However, as a way out every time the purchase of foreign models is imposed on us. Some of the authorities praise Israeli "Merkava" that burned by dozens in 2006 in Lebanon because of our anti-tank weapons.

"That is, those who call to buy foreign military equipment, are simply destroying our weapons and defense industry producing it, willy-nilly acting on behalf of foreign competitors in Russia. Imagine if someone wanted to buy our tanks or ships, and they were told: "Did you know that they are very bad and that the Western ones are better?"

Meanwhile, in practice, our tanks are better. In Iraq, the famous American "Abrams" would stall now and then just because their dust collectors could not cope with their task, while our armored vehicles do not experience such problems in desert conditions. This is because they were created taking into account our experience of participation of the USSR in conflicts, including in Afghanistan.

If currently we firmly hold, if not second, then at least third place in the world arms market, with this approach, we will quickly lose our previous positions. Such statements about the poor quality of Russian weapons should be punishable."

Sergei Balmasov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov